The gunman was on a mission to kill.
His kill zone was a path walked by hundreds of Australian travellers every day as they arrive at Los Angeles International Airport’s (LAX) bustling Terminal 3, make their way through security checkpoints then board Virgin Australia or other flights back home.
Instead of a boarding pass, US authorities allege 23-year-old Paul Anthony Ciancia was holding an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle and was loaded up with ammunition.
Ciancia’s brother told authorities he received a text message from his sibling hours earlier saying he was thinking about killing himself.
‘‘There were more than 100 rounds that could have literally killed everybody in that terminal today,’’ Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said, discussing the ammunition Ciancia was allegedly carrying.
Ciancia shot his way through the security checkpoints and was eventually shot multiple times in the chest by police deep inside the terminal near a Burger King restaurant.
A US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agent was killed in the rampage and at least six others were injured.
Australians were not believed to be among the victims.
A note found in a bag Ciancia was carrying reportedly had a rambling message against the US government and particularly, the TSA.Witnesses said that as Ciancia methodically made his way through the terminal he asked people he encountered if they were TSA employees.
‘‘Apparently he wasn’t a fan of the TSA,’’ one law enforcement officer said.
LAX is the main hub for Australians entering and leaving the US, with Qantas, Virgin Australia, United and Delta using the airport for Australian flights.Ciancia suffered multiple shot wounds to his chest and was recovering under guard in a nearby hospital.
Hundreds of Australians were caught up in the shootings or were on Qantas, Virgin Australia or other planes at LAX.
‘‘I was standing waiting for my wife and the next thing sirens started going off and police just swarmed,’’ Ben Melling, an Australian living in Los Angeles who was waiting at LAX’s Tom Bradley Terminal for his wife who was flying back to LA from Sydney.
Tom Bradley sits alongside Terminal 3.‘‘Guns were drawn,’’ Melling said.
‘‘People ran for cover.‘‘It was like I was in a Hollywood movie.’’
It took his wife, Tracy, five hours to emerge from customs.
The shooting rampage took place at about 9.20am local time (3.20am Saturday AEDT), a busy time for flights from Australia landing in Los Angeles.
A Virgin Australia flight from Sydney landed at the airport at 10.15am and a Virgin Australia flight from Brisbane landed at the airport at 6.25am.
A Qantas flight from Sydney landed at 9.35am and another touched down at 6.30am.
A Qantas flight from Brisbane landed at 6.35am. A Qantas flight from Melbourne landed at 7.07am.
While most flights out of LA were suffering delays, Australia-bound flights on Virgin Australia and Qantas leaving Friday night were scheduled to leave on time.